In a society where romantic love has become a source of embarrassment, and real entertainment consists of glamorised violence, one can’t help to wonder if this generation is more obsessed with death than any other.
Deaths of others seems to now be merely intriguing. For years, our society has always had an itch to buy tabloids, but tuck them in their Wall-street Journal, but psychologists and sociologists have found that the about of death our society is immune to is only getting increasingly more mainstream. “People are a little hungry for blood.” Says Gail Saltz, an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornel School of Medicine and frequent expert on shows from Oprah to 20/20/ “People want to go see car races not just because they love the racing of cars, but because a car might hit the wall and blow up,” she says. “There is a fascination with seeing disasters, horrific things.” Every human’s nature is to be a little sadomasochistic.
So death gives us a rush? But only from a safe distance. Just like when we watch reality TV, the ridiculous 500 pound life kind, we feel better about ourselves. We’re all at a safe distance behind the screen. Princess Diana is the perfect example, her fatal car accident had more images and coverage than this years’ Olympics.
“We are probably more afraid of death than anything else,” Saltz says. “The fascination with viewing someone who is [dead] … is driven by that sort of supreme fear of ours which makes us want to know more and to understand the experience and feel like we have some kind of window in.” It could be a way of trying to feel prepared for something we can never truly be ready for.
“[It’s] partially driven by the wish to have the things they imagine the celebrities have,” Saltz says. “I can feel less terrible about [the fact that] I don’t get to have it because look at the price you pay: You pay with your life.”
Scott Bonn, a professor of criminology and sociology at Drew University, agrees. People “love disasters of all sorts,” he says. A dead celebrity photo, for some, is reassurance. “The average person … their lives are rather mundane and not that happy. These things divert our attention and remind us after all, as mundane and shitty as my life might be, it’s not that bad.”
Number counts on the news seem to be a grading of how serious we should take a world issue. The larger the number, the more we’re intrigued. The more vulgar the image, the more likes. Our routine of connection with death could just entice the concept that our society is more blind than ever before, or in other words really doesn’t understand the true value of a humans’ life. Weapon control is out of control, and we don’t even know why. How many people who own a gun properly understand the value of a humans life? It really doesn’t matter, because they can easily buy one anyway.
Maybe it is an escape from reality, this need to get as close to the edge of the abyss as possible and look at it, without falling in. Are we too bored? Uneducated? Too privileged? Distracted? Too selfish?
Believe it or not, we all come close to death at birth. The anaesthesia given to our mothers’ is massive and overwhelming for most babies, and the systems in most babies are shut down and death lurks, but we are not developed enough to understand it. Later, when we are capable of processing and articulating death we are still obsessed but now it is a name and an idea. This experience is imprinted and does not go away. Then comes religion, and its first task is to take care of death in our minds. It provides an ideology and a belief that erases threat, or in other words, takes place of the obsession. Our new obsession becomes God, and the belief has to be strong and constant to keep real fear at distance.
Those who obsess about it have in general weak gating systems; that is, the amount of early pain is so high that the gates have always been faulty. Death lurks constantly in the background and foreground. It is immediate and the person thinks he is going to die NOW! That means the memory is up on top just close to conscious/ awareness. Pills that suppress the pain do help and lower the belief system. Alcohol the same. But the appointment in Summara won’t go away. You know the story. The man hears that death is coming to his village and so he escapes to Sumarra only to learn that death has changed his itinerary and will come to Sumarra. There is no escape— because we cannot escape the imprint. It is real and that is what makes imminent death real.